The Last Prince of Lyonesse
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by Frances Evlin
Category: Fantasy/Historical Fiction ARIANA Award Winner: Best Cover Art
Description: In 1099, the magical island of Lyonesse, once King Arthur's retreat, is still a land of superstitions, secrets and destinies. A spirit prophet appears to Tamsin, a discontented freewoman, and says she has ten days to save the life of young Prince Aneurin, the reincarnation of the fabled king. With the help of a sweet-natured peasant lad, an exciting Cornishman, and a personable white mule, Tamsin inveigles her way into the castle. But Aneurin, who still mourns his mother and resents his look-alike companion, is hostile toward her. Selwich, the royal advisor, lusts after her. The king zealously protects the island's saffron crop, and when Selwich learns why, he plots to kill the king and the prince. When the prophet reappears to tell Tamsin about the accident in which the prince will die, the task takes on new dimensions and she must call upon all her resources?human, animal and spiritual?to overcome them.
eBook Publisher: Mundania Press LLC/Mundania Press LLC, 2007 2007
eBookwise Release Date: September 2007
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [614 KB]
Reading time: 400-560 min.
PROLOGUE 20 March, 1066
When the storm worsened, Shemdin hauled the wooden chest topside and asked one of the ship's crew to lash him to it. He had worked many years to gain his master's trust and would not fail to deliver the chest to England's new king. Heart racing, limbs atremble, Shemdin watched the frantic crew struggle to wrest the merchant ship from the grasp of the screaming gale. With his right cheek pressed against the chest's polished lid, he closed his eyes and begged Allah to help him protect the treasure it held.
The heavens spat lightning and the storm's great hands clapped. Incited by the thunderous applause, the sea heaved into an enormous swell that crashed down upon the ship. Its single sail had already been snatched by the wind. Now its splintered mast, ensnarled by lines and shrouds, twisted and fell.
Part of it struck Shemdin's back as the ship heeled. Frothing waves tumbled him, the chest and the scrabbling crewmen across the deck. The dark sea clutched at him and dragged him under. * * * *
He roused at the sound of shouted words and opened his eyes. Too numb with cold to have any feeling in his limbs, Shemdin thought he must still be bound to the chest, for he lay atop it, half out of the water, on a pebbly beach. Two men--one old and bent, the other tall and young--slogged toward him, their hatless heads bent against a gusty wind. English, surely, for they looked as had been described to Shemdin--white-skinned, with short-cropped dark hair. Knee-length, sleeved garments hugged their lean bodies, wrappings covered their calves, and high-topped boots protected their ankles and feet.
The younger man carried a club.
Shemdin knew that the merchantman's bold course had followed a different route from the ones most ships sailed. Further, he had been warned that if the ship wrecked, the people living along the English coast were allowed to salvage what cargo they could. But he had paid too little heed to the whispered rumors as to why ships' crews and passengers rarely survived. Now, groggy though he was, he knew his life was in danger.
Again and again, a hundred times--a thousand times--he had practiced speaking the words he must say when he met the English. He tried to remember those words and panic seized him when he could not. Another blast of wind-driven sea mist struck him; he shuddered and groaned.
The Englishmen reached him. "Blessed Mother," the older man said. "This one be still alive."
Squinting at Shemdin, the club holder grunted. "A Turk, by the look o' 'im."
Shemdin opened his mouth, willing the rehearsed speech to come. His ribs hurt so that he could hardly draw breath, and only watery spittle passed between his bruised lips.
"Ah, well..." the man hefted the gnarled piece of wood.
Fear thrummed along Shemdin's spine, set his nerves tingling, brought the prepared words to his tongue. "I bring..." he began, and the Englishman hesitated, "...a gift for your king."
"For Herryld?" The older man's grizzled brows lifted.
"Yes. For King Harold." Shemdin's hoarse words came with great difficulty. "A gift ... from the Grand Sultan ... of the Seljuk Empire."
The men exchanged glances. "If he bears somethin' for Herryld," the older one said, "honor-bound we be t' deliver it."
The younger man once more lifted the club. "'Tis not as if the Turk needs t' go along."
Terror muted the pain in Shemdin's body. "I must deliver ... a message ... with it." Seeing the doubt in the two men's eyes, he added, "The treasure ... is worth nothing ... without the message."
For a long moment, the men considered. Then the older one took hold of his companion's arm, dissuading him from using the bludgeon. "The treasure be for our good king," he said. "We take this man t' the castle."